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Foxbat Foxbat!

[ 21 ] June 5, 2016 |
Air-to-air right underside rear view of a Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat aircraft.jpg

“Air-to-air right underside rear view of a Soviet MiG-25 Foxbat aircraft”. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.

My latest at the National Interest takes a closer look at the MiG-25:

Bearing a wicked name, a forbidding profile, and some great stats, the Foxbat looked like a world-beater. Combining exceedingly high speed with high altitude tolerance and a heavy weapons load, it looked as if the plane could contribute effectively on the Central Front while also helping to immunize Soviet airspace from U.S. penetration. Combined with the lessons of third-generation fighters in Vietnam, the existence of the Foxbat helped spur U.S. innovation, pushing the development of the F-15 Eagle.



Happy Birthday!

[ 78 ] May 31, 2016 |

Screenshot 2016-05-29 20.08.56

To us!

Today is the 12th anniversary of the founding of Lawyers, Guns and Money.  As always on such occasions, we would like to thank all of the readers and commenters who have, over the years, made this blog possible.  We would also like to thank everyone that has linked to the blog over the years, including especially the few stalwarts who have been around since the Golden Age of Blogging.  It goes without saying that Scott, djw, and myself did not expect either this degree of success, or of longevity.

As always on such occasions, we solicit for donations (if the link doesn’t work, please try the button on the near right sidebar). To be clear, while the contributors to LGM currently live in a variety of different economic and professional circumstances, none of us are on the brink of starvation.  We all have some form of upkeep apart from this website, which is quite fortunate given the revenue-generating capacity of the blog.

Nonetheless, donations help make LGM more than just a hobby.  Along with ads, donations enable us to pay all of our writers, including guest contributors; to pay our server fees; to pay our taxes and business fees (and accountants); and to make periodic upgrades to the site (one should be on its way before the election).

We should also note that there are a variety of other worthy causes that you could donate money to, not least the election of a Democratic President, the election of Democratic congresspersons, along with a whole bevy of other situations of need. 

You can also support LGM through following us through various social media:

I’ll add a Snapchat account just as soon as I figure out what the hell Snapchat is.

In any case, thanks again for your generosity in time, in commentary, and everything else. If you have any questions or suggestions or notes to the ombudsman, please leave in comments.

Friday Morning Links

[ 25 ] May 27, 2016 |
A U.S. Air Force pilot navigates an F-35A Lightning II aircraft assigned to the 58th Fighter Squadron, 33rd Fighter Wing into position to refuel with a KC-135 Stratotanker assigned to the 336th Air Refueling 130516-F-XL333-404.jpg

By MSgt John Nimmo Sr. -Public Domain.



“The Chief Business of the American People is Business”

[ 21 ] May 27, 2016 |
West German F-104 Starfighter.jpg

“West German F-104 Starfighter” by Marshall, S.L.A. – U.S. Army Heritage Education Center (USAHEC) photo S.L.A. Marshall B1 no 73. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.


You lose a war against the United States, we sell you fighter planes.  You fight a war alongside the United States, we sell you fighter planes.  You beat the United States in a war, we sell you fighter planes:

Now that the U.S. arms embargo has been lifted, what might be on Hanoi’s shopping list? According to a recent article at Defense News, U.S. defense officials and industry reports suggest “a lot.”

What Was Obama’s Syria Strategy?

[ 92 ] May 27, 2016 |
Kieseritzky Cubic Chess board.png

“Kieseritzky Cubic Chess board” by Ihardlythinkso – Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Commons.

On support for the Assad regime:

Yeah, there’s this really disconcerting tendency to portray “people who belong to Assad’s religious sect” as “card-carrying members of Assad’s military apparatus”. The portion of the American foreign policy establishment who was dead set on marketing the idea of a definitively identifiable group of “moderate rebels” had a field day trying to spin Sunni rebel massacres of Alawite civilians as military engagement with Assad himself – if only to avoid admitting that the people they wanted to arm against Assad also wanted to wipe his entire tribe out of existence.

Even now, no one seems to be able to admit that “Assad is a complete monster” and “innocent people who belong to his tribe are being massacred by sectarian bigots” are not mutually exclusive.

Via Freddie.

The (very real) interventionist portion of the American foreign policy establishment notwithstanding, I believe that the concern described above (massacre of Christian and Alawite civilians) has dominated Obama administration thinking on Syria. The Obama administration has pursued, I think, a fairly consistent and coherent strategy that it has not been able to describe rhetorically; it has sought to force the Assad regime to a coalition government with “moderate” rebels (one that would involve the resignation of Assad himself), but has resisted taking any steps that would inevitably result in the collapse of that regime.

This has meant supporting the rebels (and looking the other way when the Gulf states support the rebels), but stopping short of steps that would ensure rebel military victory on the ground. It has meant keeping an open back-channel with the Assad regime (through coordination of activity against ISIS, and through Russia). It has meant resisting airstrikes targeted against the regime that would necessarily escalate into a campaign to destroy the regime.

And the reason for this is that, from the experience of Libya and Iraq, the administration well understands the potential for brutality and genocide in aftermath of a clear rebel military victory. In particular, I suspect that no one in the Obama administration wishes to preside over the potential extinction of the Syrian Orthodox Christian community. It also appreciates the inevitability of chaos as various rebel groups struggle to pick up the pieces of a shattered regime. And it understands that a collapse of the Syrian state is good for no one in the neighborhood; Turkey, Iraq, Israel, and Lebanon would all suffer.

The administration has failed to describe this strategy for reasons that should be obvious.  It doesn’t want to describe allies in the rebel movement as potential (or real) butchers; it doesn’t want to admit publicly that the butchers in the Assad regime may be a practical necessity. It has looked like dithering, but the administration has held to a core idea of what it wants, and has used various means to get there.

And of course, this strategy has failed. We are as far as ever from a coalition government; while the Russians might eventually push Assad aside, any kind of reconciliation will happen on their terms, and it’s a struggle to see the remaining rebels accept any kind of restored sovereignty by the Damascus government. We barely have any idea of who or what could replace ISIS, beyond “some group that’s marginally less horrible than ISIS.” And the destruction and dislocation produced by the civil war has become nearly incalculable, and is destabilizing established political institutions as far away as the United Kingdom.

This doesn’t quite mean that the administration erred in pursuing this strategy, as whatever costs the people of the world are paying in the Syrian civil war, the US has paid very little.  And to be vulgar, that matters a great deal in political terms; Syria will barely register as a an issue in the 2016 election.  If the United States had helped sweep a rebel coalition to power in 2011, with attendant massacres of Assad supporters, throngs of refugees generated by disorder and bad governance, and fitful civil war leading to gruesome casualties on both sides, the issue would probably loom larger, especially if some group of American citizens found themselves on the wrong side of a fight. And of course it does no good to say that the alternative would have generated twice as many dead, and twice as many refugees (although at this point it’s surely possible that either US intervention or direct US support for Assad would have resulted in less destruction than what we’ve actually seen), because we don’t get to live in counter-factual worlds.

Foreign Entanglements: Taiwan

[ 0 ] May 25, 2016 |

On the latest episode of Foreign Entanglements, Natalie speaks with Lauren Dickey about Taiwan and China policy:

Things that Shouldn’t Be Confusing

[ 392 ] May 24, 2016 |

Apparently some clarity regarding the LGM editorial process is necessary:

As should surprised no one, Erik has no control whatsoever over what Paul posts. To the extent that any contributors have the right to prod or quash or edit a post, that power lies with Scott and myself, and we exercise extraordinary discretion in practicing it. Thus, Erik is clearly under no way responsible for either maintaining or violating a “respectful silence.” And with respect to this claim:

It is again obvious to me that the situation that Erik faced in 2012 and the situation that Matt Bruenig faces now are sufficiently different that there may be any number of reasons why someone would decide to comment on one, and not the other. It may also be the case that Erik (and anyone else here at LGM) simply desires to stay out of what is becoming an increasingly fratricidal discussion. That’s not just their right; it’s likely a damn good idea. I am flummoxed, however, regarding how Corey and Connor and Glenn and Doug think that publicly haranguing someone who has remained on the sidelines (intentionally or no) is somehow a sensible thing to do.

The Northrup Grumman B-21 Ultimatum

[ 51 ] May 24, 2016 |
Artist Rendering B21 Bomber Air Force Official.jpg

By U.S. Air Force Graphic – This Image was released by the United States Air Force. Public Domain.


Jennifer Hlad just happened on a heck of an idea for naming the Air Force’s new bomber:Screenshot 2016-05-24 10.21.58
I like it; kind of scary, but has a strategic feel to it that coincides with the basic purpose of the aircraft.

Midrats on Jutland!

[ 2 ] May 22, 2016 |
SMS Ostfriesland(2).jpg

SMS Ostfriesland. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikipedia.


I’ll be sitting in on Midrats 5pm EDT to talk about the Jutland Centenary. We’ll also be discussing all things battleship…


Jutland Revisited

[ 50 ] May 20, 2016 |

HMS Invincible in Distress.  Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.


My latest at the National Interests revisits the Battle of Jutland:

A century ago, the two greatest fleets of the industrial age fought an inconclusive battle in the North Sea. The British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas Fleet fielded a total of fifty-eight dreadnought battleships and battle cruisers, ships over the twice the size of most modern surface combatants. Including smaller ships, the battle included 250 vessels in total.

The two fleets fought to a draw, with the Germans inflicting more casualties, but still being lucky to escape alive. The Grand Fleet could very easily have annihilated the Germans, an outcome which, however tragic, would not have moved the needle on the rest of the war. But what if the Germans had won?

More Planes!

[ 25 ] May 19, 2016 |
Mitsubishi F-2 at Guam (Cropped).jpg

Mitsubishi F-2, By Marine Cpl. Ashleigh Bryant. Public Domain


Some more ruminations about air forces at the Diplomat:

Let’s take the United States as a baseline (although the U.S. arrangement is one of the most unusual in the world, most people are familiar with the basic dynamics). As of December 2015, the United States operated 13,655 aircraft; 5,062 in the Air Force, 4,759 in the Army, 1,249 in the Marine Corps, and 2,585 in the Navy. Between the USAF, USMC, and USN, the United States flies 2,838 combat aircraft (fighters, bombers, and attack aircraft), constituting 21 percent of the total fleet. The rest of the U.S. air forces consist of helicopters and a wide array of support aircraft, including the transport and tanker aircraft necessary to deploying and maintaining vast overseas operations.


Foreign Entanglements: 1968!

[ 0 ] May 18, 2016 |

On the latest episode of Foreign Entanglements, Michael Cohen and I talk about his new book, American Maelstrom:

American Maelstrom tracks the 1968 election, with a focus on each of the major candidates. Very interesting stuff, although I’m sure that some would quibble with Cohen’s characterizations. Worth a read.

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